Category Archives: catholic theology

New Testament: Sacrifice or Execution

Dr. Hahn explains why we call the Cross a Sacrifice and the implications of Christ’s command to “Do this” at the Last Supper. Listen closely and you’ll never view the New Testament the same way again…

SOURCE: St. Paul Center for Biblical Theology — YouTube — Facebook — Home page

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A reflection on the meaning of baptism

I found the description of the sacrament of baptism below to be personally true within the soul. To be “born again” by the action of the Spirit in these modern times reveals, (among a great many things), the historical reality of the presence of God in the flesh (Jesus) on earth . One learns confirmation of that visitation to his people, his death, and resurrection over 2000 years ago in one way–through the very same heart that was pierced by the Roman soldiers following his death on the cross. They wanted at that time in history to insure, with their own eyes, the death of the guilty ones; Yet, today, it is the same innocent blood and water mercifully flowing forth from the side of the Savior of the world which washes clean our sinful fallen souls, and enlightens the eyes and ears of our hearts in his bringing our souls into union with the Father—face to face in beatific communion with the Trinity. And there is no power, seen or unseen, nor evil spirit, or sin which plagues us, greater than this love of the Trinity, which God in His fullness of Glory desires to share with all men in the sacrament of baptism–Baptism reveals the meaning of life and the search for truth: To come to know, love, and serve God in this life, and be with him joyful forever in the next.

The following is from ‘Jesus of Nazareth, by Joseph Ratzinger, Pope Benedict XVI, pg. 20:

“Jesus’ Baptism, […] is understood as a repetition of the whole history, which both recapitulates the past and anticipates the future. His entering into the sins of others is a descent into the “inferno.” But he does not descend merely in the role of a spectator, as in Dante’s Inferno. Rather, he goes down in the role of one whose suffering-with-others is a transforming suffering that turns the underworld around, knocking down and flinging open the gates of the abyss. His Baptism is a descent into the house of the evil one, combat with the “strong man” (cf. Lk 11:22) who holds men captive (and the truth is that we are all very much captive to powers that anonymously manipulate us!). Throughout all its history, the world is powerless to defeat the “strong man”; he is overcome and bound by one yet stronger, who, because of his equality with God, can take upon himself all the sin of the world and then suffers it through to the end—omitting nothing on the downward path into identity with the fallen. This struggle is the “conversion” of being that brings it into a new condition, that prepares a new heaven and a new earth. Looked at from this angle, the sacrament of Baptism appears as the gift of participation in Jesus’ world-transforming struggle in the conversion of life that took place in his descent and ascent.”

Born Again Catholics. — Are Catholics Saved, by having been Born Again?

HAT TIP: Thinking Catholic Strategic Center

Readings for Sunday, September 25, 2011, 26th Sunday in Ordinary Time

Ez 18:25-28
Ps 25:4-9
Phil 2:1-11
Matt 21:28-32

I was in the cemetery, standing at the head of the casket, leading the graveside prayers for my life-long Catholic parishioner. I decided, since we had already offered a full funeral Mass, to abbreviate this service and leave some time for the Protestant minister who had been invited by a daughter of the deceased. Looking up, I noticed that he had appeared, and stood opposite me. I nodded, stepped back, and he began by reading a passage from the Bible. He then told us, a mostly Catholic group, how at the daughter’s request he had visited the deceased in the hospital and asked him if he had been saved. The man answered, no, he never had known how to do it. The minister told him how, and the man did, and so the minister wanted to assure us that our departed had been saved, and therefore we should know he was with the Lord in heaven.

One couldn’t help but feel that the opposing team had scored. But that may not have been the reverend’s intent. In fact he seemed ill at ease, never looked at me, and left promptly. But, what about it? Are Catholics saved? Or are we, kept in ignorance by the Whore of Babylon, doomed to hell because we have not accepted Jesus as our personal Lord and Savior?

If someone asks you if you are “saved”, or they might say “born again”, they are probably operating out of the “born again Christian” theology, familiar to anyone who has seen Billy Graham on TV. According to this theology we are all sinners, doomed to hell unless we repent of sin and turn to Jesus Christ as our personal Lord and Savior. At that point you are saved, and forever saved. You did nothing, and in fact can do nothing to earn God’s mercy, and so you cannot lose that mercy either once you’ve received it. In summary, salvation is by faith alone, not by works, and once saved always saved.

The Catholic faith is that, true, we are sinners, and we cannot earn God’s mercy; salvation is a grace, a free gift; but it is a gift we must respond to and put into action. Salvation is more like a life-long journey of many decisions than a single moment’s decision; the grace of God making it all possible, but our acting on that possibility being part of the process. To say “I am now saved, and am forever saved” is presumptuous. And there are many Bible passages to support the Catholic view. I will quote the briefest I can think of. It’s in Paul’s Letter to the Galations, where he is arguing that observance of the Jewish ceremonial law is not required for salvation, and he says:

”For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision nor uncircumcision is of any avail, but faith working through love.” – Gal 5:6

St. Paul is the great authority quoted by the “faith alone” crowd, and he said it’s all a matter of faith working through love. He could have added here what he made plain elsewhere, that both faith and the works of love are made possible by God’s grace, so there are no grounds for boasting.

But let’s not plunge headlong into the whole faith vs. works debate. The born-again Christian wants to know if you have been born again, and the honest answer is “yes!”, because every Catholic has been baptized. Here you could quote what Jesus said to Nicodemus, recorded in the Gospel of John, ch. 3:

”Truly I say to you, unless one is born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter the Kingdom of God.” – Jn 3:5

And this is what the Catholic Church has always taught, that the Sacrament of water baptism forgives sin and confers the gift of the Holy Spirit, adopting the baptized person into the life of God merited for us by Christ.

Objection: “But you were only a baby and didn’t know what was happening, much less accept Jesus for yourself.”

Your answer: Exactly! That’s how little Catholics believe that we earn salvation by what we do. God doesn’t even wait for that little child to grow up and reach the age of reason and make his own personal faith commitment. We take seriously what you claim to believe, that our relationship with God is God’s initiative, not our own. Christ did not wait for any personal recognition or affirmation on the part of children before he said, “let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for it is to just such as these that the kingdom of heaven belongs.”

But your born-again questioner is wanting some evidence that a Catholic truly repents of sin and personally accepts Jesus as Lord and savior. So tell them about the sacrament of Confirmation, when the candidate reaffirms, on her own volition, the faith commitment made for her at baptism, and consider the annual Easter renewal of baptismal promises that everyone in church is guided through:

Do you reject sin so as to live in the freedom of God’s children? I do.
Do you reject the glamour of evil, and refuse to be mastered by sin? I do.
Do you reject Satan, father of sin and prince of darkness? I do.

Do you believe in God, the Father almighty, creator of heaven and earth? I do.
Do you believe in Jesus Christ, His only Son, our Lord, Who was born of the Virgin Mary, was crucified, died, and was buried, rose from the dead, and is seated at the right hand of the Father? I do.
Do you believe in the Holy Spirit, the holy Catholic Church, the communion of saints, the forgiveness of sins, the resurrection of the body, and lfe everlasting? I do.

Do you mean it? Okay, you have just repented of sin and professed faith that Jesus is Lord. If this is what the born-again Christian is looking for, you’ve just been born again.

But no need to wait for Easter. What does a Catholic do at every Sunday Mass? He or she starts by confessing that he is an unworthy sinner, has sinned through his own fault, in thought and word, in what he has done and failed to do, and he looks to God’s mercy, not his own efforts, for salvation. “May God have mercy on us, forgive us our sins, and bring us to everlasting life.”

Does your born-again friend need more evidence? Stay on through Mass until the priest raises the Eucharist before the people and says – and here I will use the new Missal translation because it is closer to the Bible story of the centurion who trusted Jesus with faith – the priest says, to all present:

”Behold the Lamb of God, behold Him Who takes away the sins of the world. Blessed are those called to the supper of the Lamb.”

Look at Jesus, look to Jesus, the Lamb-Victim sent by God to merit our salvation by his sacrifice on the cross. And the Catholic responds:

”Lord, I am not worthy that you should enter under my roof, but only say the word and my soul shall be healed.”

“Lord, I am not worthy”. Does that sound like someone standing on the merits of their own good works?

“Only say the word and my soul shall be healed”. Who would say that but someone who looks to Jesus, their savior, to give what they cannot give themselves?

Is more evidence needed that the devout, believing Catholic has been born again and accepted Jesus Christ as his Lord and Savior? There is more evidence to give, but this is surely enough for any one of us, being visited and questioned by a well-meaning minister, to answer, honestly and with conviction:

”Yes. And if you only knew, you’d be Catholic too.”

END OF POST

The Church Or The Bible

“Where is the man, no matter what denomination, church or religion, that will deny that we are bound to believe what God has taught?”

The following sermon is as relevant today as it was over 100 years ago when it was first preached by Father Arnold Damen, S.J.  This message was and still is a challenge to the many who pride themselves as being “Bible-and-Bible-Only Christians.”

One cannot have God for his Father, who will not have the Church for his Mother, and likewise, one cannot have the Word of God for his faith who will not have the Church for his teacher.  It is the infallible teaching authority of the Church, as promised by Christ, which alone preserves God’s Word from erroneous interpretation.  This is the essence of Fr. Damen’s sermon.

Every sincere Bible reader deserves to know the true relation God has established between His Church and Holy Scripture.  Therefore, we invite all who love the Bible, to read Father Damen’s exposition with an open mind, lest while reading the Scriptures “… the unlearned and unstable wrest, as they do also the other scriptures, to their own destruction.” [2 Peter 3:16]

The Church Or The Bible

I.

Dearly Beloved Christians, when our Divine Saviour sent His Apostles and His Disciples throughout the whole universe to preach the Gospel to every creature, He laid down the conditions of salvation thus: “He that believeth and is baptized, shall be saved, but he that believeth not shall be condemned”  [Mark 16:16].  Here, then, Our Blessed Lord laid down the two conditions of salvation, Faith and Baptism.  I will speak this evening on the condition of Faith.

We must have Faith in order to be saved, and we must have Divine Faith, not human faith.  Human faith will not save a man, but only Divine Faith.  What is Divine Faith?  It is to believe, upon the authority of God, the truths that God has revealed.  That is Divine Faith, to believe all that God has taught upon the authority of God, and to believe without doubting, without hesitation.  For the moment you begin to doubt or hesitate, that moment you begin to mistrust the authority of God, and, therefore, insult God by doubting His word.  Divine Faith, therefore, is to believe without doubting and without hesitating.  Human faith is belief upon the authority of men, on human authority.  But Divine Faith is to believe without doubting, without hesitating, whatsoever God has revealed upon the authority of God, upon the Word of God.

Therefore, my dear people, it is not a matter of indifference what religion a man professes, providing he be a good man.

You hear it said nowadays in this Nineteenth Century of little faith that it matter not what religion a man professes, providing he be a good man.  That is heresy, my dear people, and I will prove it to you to be such.  If it be a matter of indifference what a man believes, providing he be a good man, then it is useless for God to make any revelation whatever.  If a man is at liberty to reject what God revealeth, what’s the use for Christ to send out His Apostles and disciples to teach all nations, if those nations are at liberty to believe or reject the teachings of the Apostles or disciples? You see at once that this would be insulting God.

If God reveals a thing or teaches a thing, He wants to be believed.  Man is bound to believe whatsoever God has revealed, for, my dear people, we are bound to worship God, both with our reason and intellect, as well as with our heart and will.  God is master of the whole man.  He claims his will, his heart, his reason and his intellect.

Where is the man, no matter what denomination, church or religion, that will deny that we are bound to believe what God has taught?  I am sure there is not a Christian who will deny that we are bound to believe whatsoever God has revealed.  Therefore, it is not a matter of indifference what religion a man professes.  He must profess the true religion if he wants to be saved.

But what is the true religion?  To believe all that God has taught.  I am sure that even my Protestant friends will admit this is right, for, if they do not, I would say they are no Christians at all.

“But what is the true Faith?”

“The true Faith,”  say Protestant friends, “is to believe in the Lord Jesus.”

Agreed, Catholics believe in that.  Tell me what you mean by believing in the Lord Jesus?

“Why,”  says my Protestant friend, “you must believe that He is the Son of the Living God.”

Agreed again.  Thanks be to God, we can agree on something.  We believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of the Living God, that He is God.  To this we all agree, excepting the Unitarians and Socinians, but we will leave them alone tonight.  If Christ be God, then we must believe all He teaches.  Is this not so, my dearly beloved Protestant brethren and sisters?  And that’s the right Faith, isn’t it?

“Well, yes,”  says my Protestant friend, “I guess that is the right Faith.  To believe that Jesus is the Son of the Living God, we must believe all that Christ has taught.”

We Catholics say the same, and here we agree again.  We must believe all that Christ has taught, that God has revealed.  Without this Faith, there is no salvation.  Without this Faith, there is no hope of Heaven.  Without this Faith, there is eternal damnation!  We have the words of Christ for it, “He that believeth not shall be condemned.”

II.

But if Christ, my dearly beloved people commands me under pain of eternal damnation to believe all that He has taught, He must give me the means to know what He has taught.  And the means Christ gives us of knowing this must have been at all times within the reach of all people.

Secondly, the means that God gives us to know what He has taught must be a means adapted to the capacities of all intellects, even the dullest.  For even the dullest have a right to salvation, and consequently they have a right to the means whereby they shall learn the truths that God has taught, that they may believe them and be saved.

The means that God give us to know what he has taught must be an infallible means.  For if it be a means that can lead us astray, it can be no means at all.  It must be an infallible means, so that if a man makes use of that means, he will infallibly, without fear of mistake or error, be brought to a knowledge of all the truths that God has taught.

I don’t think there can be anyone present here, I care not what he is, a Christian or an unbeliever, who can object to my premises.  And these premises are the groundwork of my discourse and of all my reasoning, therefore, I want you to bear them in mind.  I will repeat them, for on these premises rests all the strength of my discourse and reasoning.

If God commands me under pain of eternal damnation to believe all that He has taught, He is bound to give me the means to know what He has taught.  And the means that God gives me must have been at all times within the reach of all people, must be adapted to the capacities of all intellects, must be an infallible means to us, so that if a man makes use of it he will be brought to a knowledge of all the truths that God has taught.

III.

Has God given us such means?  “Yes,”  say my Protestant friends, “He has.”  And so says the Catholic.  God has given us such means.  What is the means God has given us whereby we shall learn the truth that God has revealed?  “The Bible,”  say my Protestant friends, “the Bible, the whole of the Bible, and nothing but the Bible.”  But we Catholics say, “No, not the Bible and its private interpretation, but the Church of the Living God.”

I will prove the facts, and I defy all my separated brethren, and all the preachers, to disprove what I will say tonight.  I say, then, it is not the private interpretation of the Bible that has been appointed by God to be the teacher of man, but the Church of the Living God.

For, my dear people, if God has intended that man should learn His religion from a book, the Bible, surely God would have given that book to man.  Christ would have given that book to man.  Did He do it?  He did not.  Christ sent His Apostles throughout the whole universe and said, “Go ye, therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost, teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you.”

Christ did not say, “Sit down and write Bibles and scatter them over the earth, and let every man read his Bible and judge for himself.”  If Christ had said that, there would never have been a Christianity on the earth at all, but a Babylon and confusion instead, and never one Church, the union of one body.  Hence, Christ never said to His Apostles, “Go and write Bibles and distribute them, and let everyone judge for himself.”  That injunction was reserved for the Sixteenth Century, and we have seen the result of it.  Ever since the Sixteenth Century there have been springing up religion upon religion, and churches upon churches, all fighting and quarreling with one another, and all because of the private interpretation of the Bible.

Christ sent His Apostles with authority to teach all nations, and never gave them any command of writing the Bible.  And the Apostles went forth and preached everywhere, and planted the Church of God throughout the earth, but never thought of writing.

The first word written was by Saint Matthew, and he wrote for the benefit of a few individuals.  He wrote the Gospel about seven years after Christ left this earth, so that the Church of God, established by Christ, existed seven years before a line was written of the New Testament.

Saint Mark wrote about ten years after Christ left this earth, Saint Luke about twenty-five years, and Saint John about sixty-three years after Christ had established the Church of God.  Saint John wrote the last portion of the Bible, the Book of Revelation, about sixty-five years after Christ had left this earth and the Church of God had been established.  The Catholic religion had existed sixty-five years before the Bible was completed.

Now, I ask you, my dearly beloved separated brethren.  Were these Christian people, who lived during the period between the establishment of the Church of Jesus and the finishing of the Bible, really Christians, good Christians and enlightened Christians?  Did they know the religion of Jesus?  Where is the man that will dare to say that those who lived from the time that Christ went up to Heaven to the time that the Bible was completed were not Christians?  It is admitted on all sides, by all denominations, that they were the very best of Christians, the first fruit of the Blood of Jesus Christ.

But how did they know what they had to do to save their souls?  Was it from the Bible that they learned it?  No, because the Bible was not written.  And would our Divine Saviour have left His Church for sixty-five years without a teacher, if the Bible is the teacher of man?  Most assuredly not.

Were the Apostles Christians, I ask you, my dear Protestant friends?  You say, “Yes sir, they were the very founders of Christianity.”  Now, my dear friends, none of the Apostles ever read the Bible, not one of them except perhaps, Saint John.  For all of them had died martyrs for the Faith of Jesus Christ and never saw the cover of a Bible.  Every one of them died martyrs and heroes for the Church of Jesus before the Bible was completed.

How, then, did those Christians, that lived in the first sixty-five years after Christ ascended, know what they had to do to save their souls?  They knew it precisely in the same way that you know it, my dear Catholic friends.  You know it from the teachings of the Church of God and so did the primitive Christians know it.

IV.

For not only sixty-five years did Christ leave the Church He had established without a Bible, but for over three hundred years.  The Church of God was established and went on spreading itself over the whole globe without the Bible for more than three hundred years.  In all that time the people did not know what constituted the Bible.

In the days of the Apostles, there were many false gospels.  There was the Gospel of Simon, the Gospel of Nicodemus, of Mary, of Barnabas, and the Gospel of the Infancy of Jesus.  All of these gospels were spread among the people, and the people did not know which of these were inspired and which were false and spurious.  Even the learned themselves were disputing whether preference should be given to the Gospel of Simon or that of Matthew, to the Gospel of Nicodemus or the Gospel of Mark, the Gospel of Mary or that of Luke, the Gospel of the Infancy of Jesus or the Gospel of Saint John the Evangelist.

And so it was in regard to the epistles.  Many spurious epistles were written and the people were at a loss for over three hundred years to know which was false or spurious, or which was inspired.  And, therefore, they did not know what constituted the books of the Bible.

It was not until the Fourth Century that the Pope of Rome, the Head of the Church, the successor of Saint Peter, assembled together the Bishops of the world in a council.  And there in that council it was decided that the Bible, as we Catholics have it now, is the Word of God, and that the Gospels of Simon, Nicodemus, Mary, the Infancy of Jesus, and Barnabas, and all those other epistles were spurious or, at least, unauthentic.  At least, that there was no evidence of their inspiration, and that the Gospels of Saints Matthew, Mark, Luke and John, and the Book of Revelation, were inspired by the Holy Ghost.

Up to that time the whole world for three hundred years did not know what the Bible was.  Hence, they could not take the Bible for their guide, for they did not know what constituted the Bible.  Would our Divine Saviour, if He intended man to learn his religion from a book, have left the Christian world for three hundred years without that book?  Most assuredly not.

V.

Not only for three hundred years was the world left without the Bible, but for 1,400 years the Christian world was left without the Sacred Book.

Before the art of printing was invented, Bibles were rare things.  Bibles were costly things.  Now, you must all be aware, if you have read history at all, that the art of printing was invented only a little more than four hundred years ago, about the middle of the Fifteenth Century, and about one hundred years before there was a Protestant in the world.

As I have said, before printing was invented books were rare and costly things.  Historians tell us that, in the Eleventh Century, eight hundred years ago, Bibles were so rare and costly that it took a fortune, a considerable fortune, to buy oneself a copy of the Bible!  Before the art of printing, everything had to be done with the pen upon parchment or sheepskin.  It was, therefore, a tedious and slow operation, a costly operation.

Now, in order to arrive at the probable cost of a Bible at that time, let us suppose that a man should work ten years to make a copy of the Bible and earn a dollar a day.  Well, then, the cost of that Bible would be $3,650.  Now, let us suppose that a man should work at the copying of the Bible for twenty years, as historians say it would have taken him at that time, not having the conveniences and improvements to aid him that we have now.  Then, at a dollar a day, for twenty years, the cost of a Bible would be nearly $8,000.

Suppose I came and said to you, “My dear people, save your soul, for if you lose your soul all is lost.”  You would ask, “What are we to do to save our souls?”  The Protestant preacher would say to you, “You must get a Bible.  You can get one at such-and-such a shop.”  You would ask the cost and be told it was $8,000.  You would exclaim, “The Lord save us!  And can we not go to Heaven without that book?”  The answer would be: “No, you must have the Bible and read it.”  You murmur at the price, but are asked, “Is not your soul worth $8,000?”  Yes, of course it is, but you say you do not have the money, and if you cannot get a Bible, and your salvation depends upon it, evidently you would have to remain outside the Kingdom of Heaven.  This would be a hopeless condition, indeed.

For 1,400 years the world was left without a Bible — not one in ten thousand, not one in twenty thousand, before the art of printing was invented, had the Bible.  And would our Divine Lord have left the world without that book if it was necessary to man’s salvation?  Most assuredly not.

VI.

But let us suppose for a moment that all had Bibles, that Bibles were written from the beginning, and that every man, woman, and child had a copy.  What good would that book be to people who did not know how to read it?  It is a blind thing to such persons.

Even now one-half the inhabitants of the earth cannot read.  Moreover, as the Bible was written in Greek and Hebrew, it would be necessary to know these languages in order to be able to read it.

But it is said that we have it translated now in French, English, and other languages of the day.  Yes, but are you sure you have a faithful translation?  If not, you have not the Word of God.  If you have a false translation, it is the work of man.  How shall you ascertain that?  How shall you find out if you have a faithful translation from the Greek and Hebrew?

“I do not know Greek or Hebrew,”  says my separated friend; “for my translation I must depend upon the opinion of the learned.”

Well, then, my dear friends, suppose the learned should be divided in their opinions, and some of them should say it is good, and some false? Then your faith is gone, you must begin doubting and hesitating, because you do not know if the translation is good.

Now with regard to the Protestant translation of the Bible, allow me to tell you that the most learned among Protestants tell you that your translation, the King James edition, is a very faulty translation and is full of errors.  Your own learned divines, preachers, and bishops have written whole volumes to point out all the errors that are there in the King James translation, and Protestants of various denominations acknowledge it.

Some years ago, when I lived in St. Louis, there was held in that city a convention of ministers.  All denominations were invited, the object being to arrange for a new translation of the Bible, and give it to the world.  The proceedings of the convention were published daily in the Missouri Republican.  A very learned Presbyterian, I think it was, stood up, and, urging the necessity of giving a new translation of the Bible, said that in the present Protestant translation of the Bible there were no less than 30,000 errors.

And you say, my dear Protestant friends, that the Bible is your guide and teacher.  What a teacher, with 30,000 errors!  The Lord save us from such a teacher!  One error is bad enough, but thirty thousand is a little too much.

Another preacher stood up in the convention, I think he was a Baptist, and, urging the necessity of giving a new translation of the Bible, said for thirty years past the world was without the Word of God, for the Bible we have is not the Word of God at all.

Here are your own preachers for you.  You all read the newspapers, no doubt, my friends, and must know what happened in England a few years ago.  A petition was sent to Parliament for an allowance of a few thousand pounds sterling for the purpose of getting up a new translation of the Bible.  And that movement was headed and carried on by Protestant bishops and clergymen.

VII.

But, my dear people, how can you be sure of your faith?  You say the Bible is your guide, but you cannot be sure that you have the faith.  Let us suppose for a moment that all have a Bible which is a faithful translation.  Even then it cannot be the guide of man, because the private interpretation of the Bible is not infallible, but, on the contrary, most fallible.  It is the source and fountain of all kinds of errors and heresies and all kinds of blasphemous doctrines.  Do not be shocked, my dear friends.  Just be calm and listen to my arguments.

There are now throughout the world 350 different denominations or churches, and all of them say the Bible is their guide and teacher.  I suppose they are all sincere.  Are all of them true churches?  This is an impossibility.  Truth is one as God is one, and there can be no contradiction.  Every man in his senses sees that every one of them cannot be true, for they differ and contradict one another, and cannot, therefore, be all true.  The Protestants say the man that reads the Bible right and prayerfully has truth, and they all say that they read it right.

Let us suppose that there is an Episcopal minister.  He is a sincere, honest, well-meaning and prayerful man.  He reads his Bible in a prayerful spirit, and from the word of the Bible, he says it is clear that there must be bishops.  For without bishops there can be no priests, without priests no Sacraments, and without Sacraments no Church.  The Presbyterian is a sincere and well-meaning man.  He reads the Bible also, and deduces that there should be no bishops, but only presbyters.  “Here is the Bible,”  says the Episcopalian, and “here is the Bible to give you the lie,”  says the Presbyterian.  Yet both of them are prayerful and well-meaning men.

Then the Baptist comes in.  He is a well-meaning, honest man, and prayerful also.  “Well,”  says the Baptist, “have you ever been baptized?”  “I was,” says the Episcopalian, “when I was a baby.”

“And so was I,”  says the Presbyterian, “when I was a baby.”  “But,”  says the Baptist, “you are going to Hell as sure as you live.”

Next comes the Unitarian, well-meaning, honest, and sincere.  “Well,” says the Unitarian, “allow me to tell you that you are a pack of idolators.  You worship a man for a God who is no God at all.”  And he gives several texts from the Bible to prove it, while the others are stopping their ears that they may not hear the blasphemies of the Unitarian.  And they all contend that they have the true meaning of the Bible.

Next comes the Methodist, and he says, “My friends, have you got any religion at all?”  “Of course we have,”  they say.  “Did you ever feel religion,”  says the Methodist, “the spirit of God moving within you?”  “Nonsense,”  says the Presbyterian, “we are guided by our reason and judgment.”  “Well,”  says the Methodist, “if you never felt religion, you never had it, and will go to Hell for eternity.”

The Universalist next comes in, and hears them threatening one another with eternal hellfire.  “Why,”  says he, “you are a strange set of people.  Do you not understand the Word of God?  There is no Hell at all.  That idea is good enough to scare old women and children,”  and he proves it from the Bible.

Now comes in the Quaker.  He urges them not to quarrel, and advises that they do not baptize at all.  He is the sincerest of men, and gives the Bible for his faith.

Another comes in and says, “Baptize the men and leave the women alone.  For the Bible says, unless a man be born again of water and the Holy Ghost, he cannot enter the Kingdom of Heaven.  “So,”  says he, “the women are all right, but baptize the men.”

Next comes in the Shaker and he says, “You are a presumptuous people.  Do you not know that the Bible tells you that you must work out your salvation in fear and trembling, and you do not tremble at all.  My brethren, if you want to go to Heaven shake, my brethren, shake!”

VIII.

I have here brought together seven or eight denominations, differing one from another, or understanding the Bible in different ways, illustrative of the fruits of private interpretation.  What, then, if I brought together the 350 different denominations, all taking the Bible for their guide and teaching, and all differing from one another?  Are they all right?  One says there is a Hell, and another says there is not Hell.  Are both right?  One says Christ is God, another says He is not.  One says they are unessential.  One says Baptism is a requisite, and another says it is not.  Are both true?  This is an impossibility, my friends.  All cannot be true.

Who, then, is true?  He that has the true meaning of the Bible, you say.  But the Bible does not tell us who that is, the Bible never settles the quarrel.  It is not the teacher.

The Bible, my dear people, is a good book.  We Catholics admit that the Bible is the Word of God, the language of inspiration, and every Catholic is exhorted to read the Bible.  But good as it is, the Bible, my dear friends, does not explain itself.  It is a good book, the Word of God, the language of inspiration, but your explanation of the Bible is not the language of inspiration.  Your understanding of the Bible is not inspired, for surely you do not pretend to be inspired!

It is with the Bible as it is with the Constitution of the United States.  When Washington and his associates established the Constitution and the Supreme Law of the United States, they did not say to the people of the States: “Let every man read the Constitution and make a government unto himself.  Let every man make his own explanation of the Constitution.”  If Washington had done that, there never would have been a United States.  The people would all have been divided among themselves, and the country would have been cut up into a thousand different divisions or governments.

What did Washington do?  He gave the people the Constitution and the Supreme Law, and appointed his Supreme Court and Supreme Judge of the Constitution.  And these are to give the true explanation of the Constitution to all the American citizens, all without exception, from the President to the beggar.  All are bound to go by the decisions of the Supreme Court, and it is this and this alone that can keep the people together and preserve the Union of the United States.  At the moment the people take the interpretation of the Constitution into their own hands, there is the end of the union.

And so it is in every government.  So it is here and everywhere.  There is a Constitution, a Supreme Court or Law, a Supreme Judge of that Constitution, and that Supreme Court is to give us the meaning of the Constitution and the Law.

In every well-ruled country there must be such a thing as this: a Supreme Law, Supreme Court, Supreme Judge, that all the people abide by.  All are bound by decisions, and without that, no government could stand.  Even among the Indian tribes such a condition of affairs exists.  How are they kept together?  By their chief, who is their dictator.

So our Divine Savior also has established His Supreme Court, His Supreme Judge, to give us the true meaning of the Scriptures, and to give us the true revelation and doctrines of the Word of Jesus.  The Son of the Living God has pledged His Word that this Supreme Court is infallible, and therefore, the true Catholic never doubts.

“I believe,”  says the Catholic, “because the Church teaches me so.  I believe the Church because God has commanded me to believe her.”  Jesus said:  “Tell the Church.  And if he will not hear the Church, let him be to thee as the heathen and publican.”  [Matt 18:17].  “He that believeth you believeth Me.”  said Christ, “and he that despiseth you despiseth Me.”  [Luke 10:16].  Therefore, the Catholic believes because God has spoken, and upon the authority of God.

But our Protestant friends say, “We believe in the Bible.”  Very well, how do you understand the Bible?  “Well,”  says the Protestant, “to the best of my opinion and judgment this is the meaning of the text.”  He is not sure of it, but to the best of his opinion and judgment.  This, my friends, is only the testimony of a man.  It is only human faith, not Divine Faith.

It is Divine Faith alone by which we give honor and glory to God, by which we adore His infinite wisdom and veracity.  That adoration and worship is necessary for salvation.

I have now proved to you that private interpretation of the Scripture cannot be the guide or teacher of man.  In another lecture I shall prove that the Catholic Church is the only true Church of God, and that there is no other.

END OF POST/SOURCE

Behold, your spiritual mother…

When Jesus saw his mother and the disciple there whom he loved, he said to his mother, ‘Woman, behold, your son.’ Then he said to the disciple, ‘Behold, your mother.’ And from that hour the disciple took her into his home” (Jn 19:25-27).

The Catholic Church: Gift of Love, Truth and Life

By F. K. Bartels
1/23/2011
Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)
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It was bishop Fulton J. Sheen who said, “There are not one hundred people in the United States who hate The Catholic Church, but there are millions who hate what they wrongly perceive the Catholic Church to be.” It is helpful to contemplate how the Church came to exist, and the price our Lord paid to give birth to her.
GLADE PARK, CO (Catholic Online) — Although it is fashionable in some circles to view the Catholic Church as merely one institution among others, it is vital to properly understand who and what the Church is, for our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ sacrificed his sacred humanity on the cross for the sake of his holy Bride. It was therefore God himself who willed that the Church should exist. As the sacrament of salvation and the gateway to eternal life, the Church exists as a definite and specific institution, invisible and visible, divine and human — a gift of love, truth and life. 

There is in fact a great deal of misunderstanding in contemporary society about Mother Church. It would not be an exaggeration to state that if Christ had not founded her as a definite and specific Church, then the fullness of truth our intellects so thirstily crave would be inaccessible: we would be doomed to grope in a world of darkness without hope of understanding the reality of those things which are beyond what is readily apparent to the senses. In absence of the Church, we could not know with certainty the truth about salvation and redemption, grace and free will; nor of the eschatological realities each man must eventually face; nor could we even understand what a human person is. Christ, of course, knew all this. Therefore, the Way, the Truth, and the Life who is our Savior (see Jn 14:6) founded his Church as an apostolic institution of unity, holiness, and catholicity.

Though it is the Church who dispenses the words of truth and the sacraments of life, and who carries the faithful in her womb as they journey along in God’s providential plan, there are some who willingly isolate themselves from such beautiful gifts. For some view her through sterile, calculating eyes as an human institution only; one who ceaselessly attempts to shackle modern man with ever-tightening moral constraints. In this way, she is viewed with suspicion, and thus whatever moral word she may proclaim with love for the freedom and safety of her children is dismissed as an undue, legalistic imposition that stymies freedom.

Others see the Church in an entirely abstract way, as if she did not exist as Mother Church whose words transmit the fullness of truth, but rather as a vague concept that simply and only refers to the manner in which Christians share a relationship as brothers and sisters in Christ. In this view, the Church is seen as a non-institution, indefinite and unspecific: the word Church is reduced to “church,” and with that reduction the fullness of its meaning is lost. Consequently, the words “church” and “Christian” are often thought to be synonymous. However, being a member of the latter group does not necessarily imply full communion with the former. While it is true that by virtue of their baptism all Christians are incorporated into the Church, it is important to distinguish between full and partial communion. In order for one to be in full communion with Christ’s Bride, it is necessary to be a practicing Catholic who gives assent to all that the Church teaches.

There are still others who view the Church through the warped lens of indifferentism. The fullness of truth transmitted by the Church is regarded with cold disinterest; ruled by pragmatism, the fleeting events of contemporary society are given the utmost priority, and thus worshiped as idols; truth and religion are seen as distant, trivial issues hardly worth fretting over, for there is little time for it all. The ramification of such an insane attitude is that the breadth and depth of religious truth is madly considered to be mere inconsequential clutter.

Jesus Christ Suffered And Died For The Church

It was bishop Fulton J. Sheen who said, “There are not one hundred people in the United States who hate The Catholic Church, but there are millions who hate what they wrongly perceive the Catholic Church to be.” It is helpful to contemplate how the Church came to exist, and the price our Lord paid to give birth to her.”Standing by the cross of Jesus were his mother and his mother’s sister, Mary the wife of Clopas, and Mary of Magdala. When Jesus saw his mother and the disciple there whom he loved, he said to his mother, ‘Woman, behold, your son.’ Then he said to the disciple, ‘Behold, your mother.’ And from that hour the disciple took her into his home” (Jn 19:25-27).

Many theologians see in this sacred moment on Calvary the formation of the first cell of the Church. Hans Urs Von Balthasaar commented on the fruits of the relationship conferred on Mary and John by our Beloved Savior: “From this original cell of the Church established at the Cross will come everything which will form the organism of the Church” . It is there, at the base of the cross, in an act of unwavering faith confronted with intense emptiness, pain and sorrow, that the gift of Church as a community bound in Love is conferred upon the Virgin Mother and the beloved disciple. This new way of life is immediately and fully embraced, for the disciple takes Mary into his home “from that hour”.

“In order that the bodies might not remain on the cross on the sabbath, . . . the Jews asked Pilate that their legs be broken and they be taken down. So the soldiers came and broke the legs of the first and then of the other one who was crucified with Jesus. But when they came to Jesus and saw that he was already dead, they did not break his legs, but one soldier thrust his lance into his side, and immediately blood and water flowed out” (Jn 19:31-34).

In his book, God Is Near Us, then Cardinal Ratzinger writes, “From his side, that side which has been opened up in loving sacrifice, comes a spring of water that brings to fruition the whole of history. From the ultimate self-sacrifice of Jesus spring forth blood and water, Eucharist and baptism, as the source of a new community.” Thus this Cardinal who would soon become Pope Benedict XVI was able to say, “The Lord’s opened side is the source from which spring forth both the Church and the sacraments that build up the Church.”

In this sacred, incomparable event on the cross, the Person of Jesus Christ is revealed: The Son of God and Son of Man willed to die for humanity, and, in that astonishing moment which will forever leave men speechless, he has lovingly formed in the midst of a chaotic world an island of truth and security: his Bride, the Catholic Church. This gift of love, truth and life flowed forth in divine abundance as an organic, living reality of oneness, whose beating heart is Christ himself.

The Church: Monarchical And Hierarchical Authority

Our understanding of the Church would be incomplete if we overlooked St. Matthew’s gospel. After Simon Peter confessed that Jesus is the “Messiah, the Son of the living God,” Jesus replies, “Blessed are you, Simon son of Jonah. For flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but my heavenly Father. And so I say to you, you are Peter, and upon this rock I will build my church, and the gates of the netherworld shall not prevail against it. I will give you the keys to the kingdom of heaven. Whatever you bind on earth shall be bound in heaven; and whatever you loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven” (16:17-19).

In Matthew’s gospel we clearly see that the Church is founded by Christ as a definite and specific institution; i.e., Christ founded the Church — not “churches”. Authority is conferred on St. Peter as leader, who is given the “keys to the kingdom,” and the power to “bind” and “loose”. The implication of this fact is that Peter had a primacy or special place among the apostles. Here, with St. Peter as earthly head, we see the visible monarchical structure of the Church. It stands to reason that Christ would install a leader at the helm of his Church, for without one she would quickly fall into division and disarray. Analogies always fall short; nevertheless, we should note that any business or corporation would not long survive without a leader. In Matthew 18:18, Christ gives the authority of binding and loosing to the other apostles — though Peter remains at the helm — forming the hierarchical structure of the Church.

Some object to the claim that St. Peter was First Bishop of Rome and leader of the Church. There is the notion that Christ founded his Church on St. Peter’s faith only; that Peter had no actual leadership role, and that he was but merely a figurehead. Some presently treat the office of the papacy in such a manner. But no one gives the “keys to the kingdom” to faith; no one confers the power to “bind” and “loose” on faith. Christian faith is the theological virtue by which the mind and will assents to God’s revelation: it is a movement of the intellect and choice of the will to love the God of infinite goodness with all one’s heart. Faith is saying “yes” to the Word. Faith in itself cannot possess the authority to “bind” and “loose”. Authority is granted to people. In this case, it is conferred on the Church, an authoritative monarchical and hierarchical institution, who is the Body of Christ and who possesses the fullness of truth.

The early Church Fathers were firmly convinced of the primacy of Peter and of a definite and specific Church instituted by Jesus Christ. Thus, on looking into history, we find the notion of a vague, non-institutional church entirely foreign to the Christian community.

On the unity and authority of the Church, St. Ignatius wrote: “You must all follow the bishop as Jesus Christ follows the Father, and the presbytery as you would the apostles. Reverence the deacons as you would the command of God.  Let no one do anything of concern to the Church without the bishop. . . . Wherever the bishop appears, let the people be there; just as wherever Jesus Christ is, there is the Catholic Church” (Letter to the Smyrnaeans, A.D. 105).

It is especially noteworthy that Ignatius, a man of Antioch, first writes, so far as we know, of the term Catholic Church; for it was also at Antioch that, as the Acts of the Apostles indicate, the followers of Jesus Christ were first called Christians (see Acts 11:26).

St. Cyprian, writing in about A.D. 251: “The Lord says to Peter: ‘I say to you,’ he says, ‘that you are Peter, and upon this rock I will build my Church’ . . . On him he builds the Church, and to him he gives the command to feed the sheep [John 21:17], and although he assigns a like power to all the apostles, yet he founded a single chair [cathedra], and he established by his own authority a source and an intrinsic reason for that unity. Indeed, the others were that also which Peter was [i.e., apostles], but a primacy is given to Peter, whereby it is made clear that there is but one Church and one chair. So too, all [the apostles] are shepherds, and the flock is shown to be one, fed by all the apostles in single-minded accord. If someone does not hold fast to this unity of Peter, can he imagine that he still holds the faith? If he [should] desert the chair of Peter upon whom the Church was built, can he still be confident that he is in the Church?” (The Unity of the Catholic Church, 4).

It was St. Cyprian’s understanding of the reality of the Church that compelled him to write this vital truth: “He who has turned his back on the Church of Christ shall not come to the rewards of Christ; he is an alien, a worldling, an enemy. You cannot have God for your Father if you have not the Church for your mother. Our Lord warns us when He says: ‘he that is not with Me is against Me, and he that gathereth not with Me scattereth.’ Whosoever breaks the peace and harmony of Christ acts against Christ; whoever gathers elsewhere than in the Church scatters the Church of Christ” (Ibid.).

We return to the Crucifixion. God Incarnate, through Whom all things were created and are sustained, sacrificed himself and died on the cross for his Church: a definite and specific, divine and human institution of oneness who exists as the Body of Christ. Our Savior died for the immense and incomparable gift of his Church: the sacrament of salvation whose sole purpose is to guide humankind to its eternal end. The Church is a sign and instrument of Christ’s salvation: it is within the loving arms of Mother Church that God’s children receive the sacraments in which they are swept up into the life of the Holy Trinity. Such a gift is priceless and beyond all comparison. It should never be overlooked, dismissed or rejected; rather every Christian should flock to Mother Church, the gateway to life eternal.

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F. K. Bartels is a Catholic writer who knows his Catholic faith is one of the greatest gifts a man could ever have. He is a contributing writer for Catholic Online. Visit him also at catholicpathways.com

Article brought to you by: Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)

Finding the Fullness of Christian Truth…

Christ Handing the Keys to St. Peter by Pietro...
Image via Wikipedia

“Therefore, brothers, stand firm and hold fast to the traditions that you were taught, either by an oral statement or by a letter of ours” (2 Thess. 2:15)

Tradition, Scripture, and Magisterium: The Fullness of Truth

By F. K. Bartels
3/24/2011
Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)

The Christian faith is not a “religion of the book.” Christianity is the religion of the “Word” of God, a word which is “not a written and mute word, but the Word which is incarnate and living” (Catechism of The Catholic Church, No. 108).

GLADE PARK, CO (Catholic Online) – On March 23 Pope Benedict XVI, during his general audience in St. Peter’s Square, focused his catechesis on St. Lawrence, whom he acknowledged as an “effective preacher,” and a “theologian versed in sacred Scripture and the fathers of the Church.” St. Lawrence was, continued the Pope, “also able to illustrate in an exemplary way the Catholic doctrine to Christians who, above all in Germany, had followed the Reformation.” 

“With his clear and quiet exposition,” continued our Holy Father, St. Lawrence “showed the biblical and patristic foundation of all the articles of the faith called into question by Martin Luther. Among these, the primacy of St. Peter and his Successors, the divine origin of the episcopate, justification as man’s interior transformation, the need of good works for salvation. The success that Lawrence enjoyed helps us to understand that also today, in carrying forward ecumenical dialogue with so much hope, the confrontation with sacred Scripture, read in the Tradition of the Church, is an irreplaceable element of fundamental importance, as I wished to recall in the apostolic exhortation Verbum Domini.”

It is not necessary to ask why Pope Benedict would use the phrase “confrontation with sacred Scripture”; for it is the inconsistent interpretation of Scripture itself which often continues to — at least to a large extent — fuel disunity in contemporary Christendom. Our Lord prayed for unity among his followers on the eve of his Passion (see Jn. 17); however, it will not be achieved until Christians can agree on key doctrines of the Christian religion, such as those mentioned above by our Holy Father.

Pope Benedict also emphasized the importance of reading Scripture “in the Tradition of the Church.” The inseparable relationship between Tradition (the word of God revealed to the living community of the Church) and Scripture remains as perhaps the single most misunderstood element of the true Christian religion among those who trace the origin of their particular faith tradition to the Reformation. Simply, Tradition is viewed today by some Christians as an intrusion on the word of God, when, in fact, it is just the opposite: it is essential to a fruitful and proper understanding of Scripture. One without the other diminishes the whole of God’s revealed word.

The notion that Scripture should be interpreted in an isolated fashion apart from Tradition was foreign to the apostolic Church, as St. Paul attests: “Therefore, brothers, stand firm and hold fast to the traditions that you were taught, either by an oral statement or by a letter of ours” (2 Thess. 2:15). It was not until Martin Luther and the Reformation in the sixteenth century that sola scriptura became entrenched in parts of Christendom. Thomas Bokenkotter wrote that for “Luther, ‘Scripture alone’ was the supreme authority in religion-and henceforth this phrase became the rallying cry of all Protestants” (A Concise History of the Catholic Church, 208).

Further, Hilaire Belloc noted that the main principle of the Reformation was a “reaction against a united spiritual authority” (The Great Heresies, 97). While the Reformation was ignited by a complex array of disagreements, clergy abuses, frustration over certain practices in the Church at that time, and other issues, it was nevertheless the tenet of “Scripture alone” which provided the reformers with an anchor point on which a break from the authority of the Catholic Church could be both implemented and, so it seems, sustained. The Christians of that period were Catholics and, in order to facilitate a break with Rome, it became necessary to argue against the importance of Tradition and the authority of the Church: “Scripture alone” became the foundation of such an argument.

Tradition: The Revealed Word of God In History

In Part One of Verbum Domini, Pope Benedict XVI, in describing the various ways in which the word of God is spoken throughout salvation history, focuses on the relationship between Tradition and Scripture. It is important to recognize that, at the very outset, our Holy Father wished to make clear the inseparable relationship between the apostolic Tradition contained in the living Church and the written word of God preserved in Sacred Scripture:

“Then too, the word of God is that word preached by the Apostles in obedience to the command of the Risen Jesus: ‘Go into all the world and preach the Gospel to the whole creation’ (Mk. 16:15). The word of God is thus handed on in the Church’s living Tradition. Finally, the word of God, attested and divinely inspired, is sacred Scripture, the Old and New Testaments. All this helps us to see that, while in the Church we greatly venerate the sacred Scriptures, the Christian faith is not a ‘religion of the book’: Christianity is the ‘religion of the word of God,’ not of ‘a written and mute word, but of the incarnate and living Word’ (qtd. from St. Bernard of Clairvaux). Consequently the Scripture is to be proclaimed, heard, read, received and experienced as the word of God, in the stream of the apostolic Tradition from which it is inseparable” (Verbum Domini, 7).

We might think of Tradition as the foundation upon which Sacred Scripture is built, for Tradition is of apostolic origin, and was first received into the Church by the Apostles who heard it from the Savior’s own lips. These men, the foundation-stones of the Church (Eph. 2:20), went forth and, under the guidance of the Holy Spirit, handed on by “oral preaching, by their example, [and] by their ordinances, what they themselves had received.” It was the “Apostles and others associated with them who, under the inspiration [of the] Holy Spirit, committed the message of salvation to writing” (Ibid., 17-18).

Quoting from Vatican IIs Dei Verbum, Pope Benedict XVI stated that Tradition is “a living and dynamic reality”: it “‘makes progress in the Church, with the help of the Holy Spirit’; yet not in the sense that it changes in its truth, which is perennial. Rather, ‘there is a growth in insight into the realities and the words that are being passed on,’ through contemplation and study, with the understanding granted by deeper spiritual experience and by the ‘preaching of those who, on succeeding to the office of bishop, have received the sure charism of truth'” (Ibid.).

Tradition, Scripture and Magisterium: The Threefold Key To Christian Unity

It is hardly necessary to ask whether “Scripture alone” is entirely sufficient as the sole rule of faith for the Christian religion. The centuries since the Reformation up to present times adequately demonstrate that it is not. Nevertheless, it should be of great interest to every Christian who cherishes the word of God in their heart to contemplate sincerely and carefully whether or not they are receiving God’s revelation in its entirety. In a word, is the fullness of truth important? Surely every devout and pious Christian will agree that it is. In our love for God we want to know the whole truth, for God is Truth, and we intuitively understand that it is necessary to live in the truth to live with God. The truth is an inseparable and integral part of the Christian life, for it was Jesus Christ who said: “I am the way, the truth, and the life” (Jn. 14:6). It could easily be argued that, for the Christian, accessing the fullness of truth is as important as even a breath of air: while oxygen is necessary for our bodies it is the Risen Lord of Truth who sustains us and provides our very life-principle.

It becomes, then, a question of whether Scripture contains the whole of God’s revelation to his people. As much as we cherish Scripture, the answer can be nothing other than a definitive “no.” In the economy of salvation God speaks to his people through history, creation, the prophets, and “most fully in the mystery of the incarnation, death and resurrection of the Son of God” (Verbum Domini, 7). It was the Person of Jesus Christ, the Incarnate Word of God, who self-communicated his word to the Apostles, informing them of what he desired them to know and what he wished them to communicate to the Church, the People for whom he gave up his life on the cross. The point is, the transmission of God’s revelation took place first in the ecclesial community through oral preaching. Later, it was members of that same Church who, under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, recorded in the New Testament some of the sayings and parables of Jesus, the mysteries of his life, his commands, and some of what had been revealed to the Apostles by the Spirit.

Through apostolic succession, under the guidance of the Holy Spirit, the Church has faithfully cherished and transmitted the deposit of faith she received from Christ, which includes both Tradition and Scripture in accordance with the Risen Lord’s command: “Go into all the world and preach the Gospel to the whole creation” (Mk 16:15). Thus we can easily see that in order to access the fullness of truth — the deposit of faith given the Church by Jesus Christ — one must consult both Tradition and Scripture. The Gospel is both God’s unwritten and written word, not, rather, simply the written word only. As Pope Benedict observed, “Ultimately, it is the living Tradition of the Church which makes us adequately understand sacred Scripture as the word of God” (Verbum Domini, 17-18).

Further, the spiritual authority of the Catholic Church Christ founded and which the reformers so often sought to dismiss is just as integral and inseparable from the fullness of truth as is Tradition and Scripture. For apart from the Magisterium (teaching authority) of the Church, the fullness of God’s revelation cannot be maintained on earth in its integrity.

“It is clear therefore that, in the supremely wise arrangement of God, sacred Tradition, Sacred Scripture and the Magisterium of the Church are so connected and associated that one of them cannot stand without the others. Working together, each in its own way, under the action of the one Holy Spirit, they all contribute effectively to the salvation of souls” (Catechism of The Catholic Church, No. 95).

Pope Benedict XVI reminds those faithful who thirst for the fullness of God’s revealed truth where the nourishing fount of “the supreme rule of faith” is to be found: “In short, by the work of the Holy Spirit and under the guidance of the magisterium, the Church hands on to every generation all that has been revealed in Christ. The Church lives in the certainty that her Lord, who spoke in the past, continues today to communicate his word in her living Tradition and in sacred Scripture. Indeed, the word of God is given to us in sacred Scripture as an inspired testimony to revelation; together with the Church’s living Tradition, it constitutes the supreme rule of faith” (Verbum Domini, 17-18).

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F. K. Bartels is a Catholic writer who knows his Catholic Faith is one of the greatest gifts a man could ever receive. He is a contributing writer for Catholic Online. Visit him also at catholicpathways.com

Article brought to you by: Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)

Who is teaching ‘social justice’ to Catholics? By Stephanie Block

‘Teachers indoctrinating addled ideas have serious consequences…’

Who is teaching ‘social justice’ to Catholics?


Thursday, March 03, 2011
Stephanie Block
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That organization is JustFaith.org In 2005, JustFaith entered into a “partnership” with the Catholic Campaign for Human Development, Catholic Charities USA, and Catholic Relief Services to expand “parish and church commitment to social ministry and the role that formation in the justice tradition plays.” To that end, JustFaith has trained the deacons and seminarians of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Orange and other dioceses across the country.
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Is this group, however, qualified to teach Catholic deaconate and seminary training programs or parish communities? Consider Mary and Gary Becker who both serve on the national board of JustFaith Ministries Inc. Gary Becker’s bio states:
.

Gary Becker is presently serving as a deacon and homilist in the Catholic Church of the Beatitudes. Gary was ordained to the permanent diaconate in August 1993, while in the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Louisville, KY, and he retired from that service in May of 2009. He has been married to Mary for forty-six years. Both Gary and Mary are involved in social justice issues and both serve on the national board of JustFaith Ministries Inc., a justice formation program. They also serve on the board of Fonkoze USA, a micro-credit/literacy program in Haiti. In addition, Gary and Mary are spiritual directors who serve on the board of Stillpoint, a local training program for spiritual directors, and they are members of Spiritual Directors International.

For her part, Mary Becker serves on the Church of the Beatitude’s finance committee.

Now, lest one is deceived into imagining that the “Catholic Church of the Beatitudes” is a Catholic Church, it’s instructive to read the pastor’s biography:

Suzanne Dunn sfcc (Sister for Christian Community), is Pastor of the Catholic Church of the Beatitudes , was ordained a deacon on April 27, 2008 and a Roman Catholic Womanpriest on September 7, 2008. Suzanne has a Ph.D. in Clinical Psychology and maintains a small private practice. In addition, she is a spiritual director and co-facilitator of the Santa Barbara/Ventura Chapter of the Contemplative Ministry Outreach. She is a trained presenter of the Introductory Workshop in Centering Prayer and conducts Silent Saturdays and three- and five-day retreats in Centering Prayer. Suzanne holds an MA in Religious Studies from Seattle University and has studied with Alexander Shaia, Ph.D. in the Journey of Quadratos: Beyond the Biography of Jesus. Suzanne lives out her religious life with a Sister of Notre Dame in Carpinteria, Ca. She is currently an Assistant Program Coordinator for the Western region of RCWP-USA.

Then, there’s the other reverend serving the “Catholic Church of the Beatitudes:”

Jeannette Love was ordained a deacon on August 28, 2010, and a Roman Catholic Womanpriest on September 12, 2010. Her formation as a religious sister and her graduate study at Immaculate Conception Seminary, Darlington School of Theology in New Jersey, account for many enriching years of theological study. She was previously ordained in the Catholic Apostolic Church of Antioch (not under Rome) and served the Archbishops and the development of the Church for eleven years. Jeannette attended the University of Creation Spirituality, founded by Matthew Fox in Oakland, CA, through which she received a Masters degree (conferred by Naropa University in Boulder, CO). At present Jeannette works as Conference Coordinator at La Casa de Maria Retreat Center, is a spiritual director, facilitates a Centering Prayer Group weekly, and assists Suzanne in ministry at the Catholic Church of the Beatitudes. Jeannette resides in Santa Barbara.

In other words, Deacon Gary Becker is a dissident Catholic. As is Jack Jezreel, the Founder and Executive Director of JustFaith who periodically addresses dissident “Catholic” Call to Action events.

As an interesting aside, the website of the Church of the Beatitudes was scrubbed of Gary Becker’s photo on February 26, 2011, right after an email was sent around Catholic circles, describing the connection between Becker and JustFaith. The site as it appears today: http://beatitudes-sb.org/pastoral-staff/; the site as it appeared before February 26: http://webcache.googleusercontent.com/search?q=cache:HzDs8LZuItMJ:beatitudes-sb.org/pastoral-staff/+church+of+the+beatitudes+gary+becker&cd=2&hl=en&ct=clnk&gl=us&source=www.google.com

Such perspectives on the part of key JustFaith personnel have ramifications for how they understand “social justice.” The distorted and rebellious sensibilities that lead people who were once participates in the Catholic Church to set up alternative “Catholic” churches, created in their own images, carries over into their “social justice” activism. They are not teaching Catholic social justice but a perversion that includes, for example, the “right” to be a priest.

Teachers indoctrinating addled ideas have serious consequences. So, one finds that in 2009, in the Diocese of Orange Auxiliary Bishop Dominic Luong, at least two other Diocese of Orange priests, and crowd of invited Catholics cheered Loretta Sanchez [ http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9Q3i9j0KGWI ], one of the most pro-abortion politicians in Congress, at St. Callistus Catholic Parish. The rally was, by the way, led by the Catholic Campaign for Human Development-funded Alinskyian community organization, OCCCO (Orange County Congregation Community Organization, an affiliate of the PICO network).

After years of being re-educated in a secular political ideology, is it any surprise that deacons, priests, and perhaps even some bishops have acquired a deeply distorted – dissident — idea of “social justice?”

Many thanks to a source in the Diocese of Orange for assistance in preparing this article.

Stephanie Block is the publisher of Los Pequenos newspaper of New Mexico and a founder of the Catholic Media Coalition.

PHOTO CREDIT: JEZREEL –  SOURCE/BECKER – SOURCE

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